Diving into Joo Won’s projects

About a few months ago, I met a friend who I had discovered was into Gaksital. I was thrilled as my circle of friends had not seen that drama yet. We discussed about the drama and naturally the topic went to Joo Won. She told me she had watched all of his dramas (not that many, just 3), his variety persona, his appearances in music videos and his musical pre-debut days. I… having watched Joo Won for the first time as Gaksital had no idea and I felt bad. I was too busy loving his ‘Lee Kang To’ persona that I neglected the Actor Joo Won. I really, really think Joo Won has potential in acting, although he sometimes overacts, but that may be because he is still used to theatre acting. He has expressive eyes and is able to focus in matters of seconds. That’s why I’ve decided to watch his previous projects to kind of show my support as a fan.

Baby's gonna cry because of the Big Bad Moth

Baby’s gonna cry because of the Big Bad Moth

I’ve watched 1 Night 2 Days and initially, I was kind of weird out by his very, very different personality from Lee Kang To. I mean, when I see Lee Kang To, I see hot guy but when I see 1N2D Joo Won, I go, ‘Baby!!!’ This guy does aegyo naturally like nobody’s business. It really makes you appreciate his acting more. One thing about 1N2D is that they usually do their openings at the KBS Building. I was there! But back then, I haven’t watched the show. I would’ve enjoyed the visit more and took lots of pictures near the staircase. I’m really starting to fall for this guy. He can act, sing and is good in athletic games. What more do you want? (Just don’t ask him maths or general knowledge.)

Since it’s the holidays, I decided to give a shot at Baker King Kim Tak Gu. I remembered my friend saying that it’s a good drama and it reached the ‘national drama’ status due to its rating achieving 50% viewership. The drama is really the soap-drama-kind. Affairs. Check. That secretary who somehow forgotten the good deeds done by the employer. Check. Crazy mother. Check. Rivalry between rich and poor boys. Check. You got almost every makjang ingredients for this bread drama recipe. You could say this drama is the elder sister of Five Fingers and Nice Guy (maybe just a half-sister). The flow of the drama feels like a manga, with its bread metaphor and corny speeches and the I’m-checking-the-humidity dance.

Plot-wise, the story is predictable. Nope, I take that back, very predictable. If I were one of the characters there, I’d be fortuneteller, even better than that pottery guy (refer to Ep 1). I can’t say I like the parents of both the boys. (A brief maths description: President Dad + Caretaker/Tak Gu’s Mom = Tak Gu & Mommy Dearest + President’s secretary = Ma Jun. Psst. President Dad doesn’t know about the affair with the sec, but somehow he treats Ma Jun coldly and favours Tak Gu. I don’t know why. He said that Ma Jun had benefited from him all these years while Tak Gu didn’t so Money = Attention? Thanks for that lesson, President Dad. You’re the best. Yea, I don’t like him.) Every one played a part in causing the mess that is Mommy Dearest, that includes herself of course, because in the end, she’s the ones who made all the bad decisions . And to Tak Gu’s Mom, no matter how innocent you were, sleeping with someone’s husband is a big No-No! Hey, it takes two to tango.

Aww, that brief bromance moment. I wish they'd spent the whole drama tied together

Aww, that brief bromance moment. I wish they’d spent the whole drama tied together

Joo Won plays Ma Jun, the second guy for this drama, but his character feels like the typical rich jerk first guy stereotype, but with a pinch of meanness from Mommy Dearest and President’s Secretary while Yoo Shi Yoon opted for Sunshine Kim Tak Gu. Thanks to him, I’ve developed a when-Kim Tak Gu-smiles-then-I-smile disease. I don’t know, his smile is very contagious. Even though Ma Jun is the antagonist of the story, I can’t help feeling sorry for him because deep, deep, deep, deep down, he’s just a lost kid who’s craving for love. And because it’s Joo Won, I can’t help making heart shapes towards him and swooning at his every jerk moments that I was afraid that I might become one of those I-see-no-wrong-in-my-Oppa fan. (I’m not, thank god.) Every time he crosses the line, I’d be really upset at him, though not to the point of dislike. There are times where I can’t bear to watch him fall deeper and deeper to the point of no return, but I reminded myself there were times where Kang To was even worse than this. I’m already 70% episodes in, so I can’t back out now and I really hope in the end, he would redeem himself. Pleeeaaassseee!!!  (I guess this must be how all the Shunji’s fans felt.)

Look at him all smirky. *Iloveyou*

Look at him all smirky. *Iloveyou*

Another Shoujo find: Kamisama Hajimemashita

Even though the anime had only been released in October, I had heard of the manga that it was based on years ago, but I didn’t give it a chance because the cover shown on wiki does not look appealing. Although at that time, I kept misreading the title as Kamisama Hajimemashite. Might not seem like a huge deal, it changes the translation of the title (Hajimemashita = I’ve started while Hajimemashite = Nice to meet you).

The not-so-pretty cover on wiki

The not-so-pretty cover on wiki

The plot of the story: Nanami had just lost her home due to her father’s debt and while hanging around the park, she encountered Mikage. He offered her a place to stay, a shrine, and before parting, he left a kiss on her forehead. Upon arriving the shrine, she was greeted by Onikiri and Kotetsu as the new land deity. Tomoe, who had been waiting for his master for 20 years, refused to acknowledged her and left the shrine, stripping the power that supported the shrine, therefore it turned to its rundown state.

Tomoe has no respect for Nanami

Tomoe has no respect for Nanami

If I have to compare it to another anime, Kamisama Hajimemashita is kind of the shoujo version of Inuyasha. They both have youkais, plucky heroines with somewhat verbal control over their [yokais] (Kagome’s being “Osuwari!” which means “Sit!), time-travelling and that heroines are the descendants/reincarnations of the [yokais]‘ previous lovers. However, due to recent chapters of Kamisama Hajimemashita, there had been theory that suggest that the woman who Tomoe fell in love with in the past was no other than Nanami. I’d be super happy if this theory does come true. Since Kamisama Hajimemashita falls under the shoujo category, there is less fighting and that it deals mostly with the ‘robu-robu’ between Nanami and Tomoe.

[yokais]: In the case of Inuyasha, he is not a full-fledged demon as his mother is human.

The anime adaptation is very pretty, though at times I noticed that drawing isn’t as nice when they’re not doing a close up. There has been complaints that there were a few inconsistencies from the manga; one of them being the chapter jump. But really, that’s not so much a big deal. What I didn’t like was that the previous two episodes had no flow in it. There were two mini stories for each episode so there weren’t any cliffhangers. I get that it’s hard for the production to select which chapters to animate, given the number of episodes they planned: 13!!! Meaning, in less than 2 weeks, there will be no more Kamisama Hajimemashita! NO!!! Also, I’ve already finished reading the latest chapter, although I had to spoil myself with chapter summaries. Else, how am I supposed to know what happen next? So much for no cliffhangers. Anyways, I do hope that there will be a second season, but that’ll depend on the ending.

Even though the anime doesn’t give me as much warm fuzzies as Sukitte Ii Na Yo it is still very enjoyable, with Tomoe being so swoon-worthy. I’d say that this anime could be considered reverse harem, because Nanami is always surrounded by guys, albeit they’re not human. There are lots of LOL moments (e.g. Kurama’s entrance), especially for the first half of the season. I’d advise you watch it with a friend because you don’t want to be the only one laughing your head off.

Kurama with all his theatrics

Kurama with all his theatrics

Reigniting My Love for Shoujo Anime

Sukitte Ii Na Yo

It was like any other day, me browsing through tumblr leaving my work unattended, when I stumbled upon some anime gifs. My interest was immediately piqued because the artwork was pretty *cough*the guy is really, really hot!*cough* so I googled it and found out the name of the anime, Sukitte Ii Na Yo (Say, “I love you”). The plot is nothing new; just the standard super popular guy in school (Kurasawa Yamato) meets socially-awkward, lonely girl (Tachibana Mei) and he falls in love with her. If you’ve read “Koko Ni Iru Yo (I am here!), Bokura ga Ita (We Were There) or Kimi ni Todoke (From Me to You), then this kind of set up is not unfamiliar to you. Initially, I found myself scoffing at everything Yamato said/did. Much like Mei, I was at disbelief at how a guy like him could have fallen in love with a girl like her. Also, how he could easily say/do that level of corny with a straight face. Really, Guy, you’re just embarrassing me. For example, in episode 1, Mei asked Yamato to help her get rid of a stalker. His solution: Kiss Mei IN FRONT of the stalker. Awkward, much? I get it if he wanted to pretend to be her boyfriend but couldn’t he just resort to holding hands and just warn the stalker? I think that action would be sufficient to get the message across.

It was only when I reached the the forth episode that I began to appreciate the sweet things he does to her. Back then, I was not convinced as to how he fell for her, but now after rewatching it again, I can sort of see why. He’s liked by everyone so somehow being treated differently by Mei, he was intrigued. And every time Mei opens her mouth (she’s a quiet girl), he learns something something new, and finds himself wanting to know more about her. The dramas I watched usually focuses on the obstacles an OTP faced BEFORE they can finally be together so it’s nice to have a story about a couple going through the ups and downs together. After all, the ‘happily ever after’ is really just the beginning. The anime has so far released 8 episodes, yeah, not a lot, that’s approximately 3 hours of ‘Aww’-ing and squealing. Yes, you will squeal, I can guarantee that.

She’s clearly very affected!

Following a still-airing anime is more frustrating than a kdrama. (25 minutes vs 2 hours per week, you get the idea.) But one of the perks of animes are that they are usually adaptions of mangas so if you’re like me, who can’t wait for the next episodes, read the manga. Sadly, however the latest chapter available in english is 24. There are currently 39 chapters available. I tried reading the japanese raw of the remaining chapters. I can sort of understand, but my knowledge of kanji or chinese characters are very little and even if there is hiragana written on top of that kanji, I can’t see it. Desperate, I know but hey, I thought it’d be a good practice since I am taking a Japanese Language course right now, even though I’m only on level 2.

Be warned! After watching the anime, you might develop an unrealistic, unhealthy standard of the ideal guy. I know I have. That’s why I’m gonna die alone. Sigh. If you’re interested in another couple-in-a-relationship manga, I’d recommend Koukou Debut (High School Debut) – no anime for this one and there is a live-action movie but not as good as the manga.

The Confusion that is the Finale of Arang Part 2

Continuation…

The Fairy & The Grim Reaper

Mu Yeon & Mu Yeong: The death of Mu Yeon was rather anti-climatic especially since it occurred in less than a minute into the last episode. They might as well killed her off in the last minute of episode 19, but no, they wanted to make us wait, just for the sake of creating a cliffhanger. Really, the drama didn’t need the cliffhanger. People that were watching episode 19 were definitely going to tune in the final episode. If they insisted on ending it like that, then there should at least be a battle of some kind. Come on, she was the main antagonist. The Big Boss. It shouldn’t have been that easy. Okay, fine. She was already weak at that time. Without a body, there was so little she could do. Also, the part where Mu Yeong stabbed her, and later ended up killing himself, I actually wished he’d use a sword, or a slightly longer dagger. Just enough to pierce both of them together. It’d be more romantically tragic and beautiful if both of them died/disappeared at the same time. What? I’m weird that way, I know.

Joo Wal: I don’t really know what to say about him, other than him being very, very weak. He was so weak, that in the end he took his own life. Granted, recovering all of his painful memories must’ve been very hard on him. (There was also no one by his side to console him.) He never really grew as a character. Whenever he was pushed to a corner, he always wanted to run away. When he decided to serve under Mu Yeon, he was trying to run away from his old life and with his suicide, he was running away from his crimes. It’s ironic, how in the afterlife, he ended being a grim reaper – a soul collector – only this time, he was serving under a different master and that he didn’t need to do the killings.

The lonely Joo Wal

Lord Choi: How satisfying would it be if Joo Wal was the one to drag Lord Choi to the afterlife? Not that his ending was less satisfying, mind you. I loved how there is no such thing as class when you’re a ghost. It’s every ghost for him/herself. That said, I hated how in every Sageuk drama there would always be those old Yangbans who really think they’re always above everyone else. Them, with all their stupid secret meetings. Oh, another thing to note about the Sageuk baddies is that how they think they’re the righteous ones. And should something happen to facilitate their plans, they’ll be like, “The Heavens are helping us.” I mean, what the hell man?! The only thing you’re getting is karma!

Heaven & Hell: I don’t really like the idea of losing your memories when you go to Heaven. Sure, I understand that you have to cut ties with your Earthly life. But I hate how it’s because of that, Arang said she’d rather go to Hell. Oi, woman! I know you really, really don’t want to forget the Magistrate and it’s supposed to be a romantic gesture. But seriously, you’ve only known him for approximately 2 months. How could you choose Hell over Heaven just for a man?! Brain cannot compute. Arang is just one step away of becoming Mu Yeon. It’s just stupid is all I’m saying. Also, there’s the thing in which when you go to the deepest of Hell, and as your soul burns up, you lose your memories and people won’t even remember you. So what you’re saying is that people would forget any evil person that ever exist in the face of Earth? If Lord Choi was ever sent to Hell (assuming he is evil), nobody in Miryang would remember his tyranny? Doesn’t that make you feel as if the people were being cheated? In the end, if historians were to make records of what happen during a certain era, everything would be all sunshine and rainbow because no one could recall the baddies. That… doesn’t make sense.

Their second chance

Reincarnation:  It’s a happy ending!!! How could anyone complain about this? I don’t think anyone was anticipating this kind of ending too. We all knew that whether it ‘d be Heaven or Hell, Arang would definitely leave Eun Oh. The closest thing to a happy ending that I could conjure up with was that Eun Oh dying too because his role as Jade Emperor’s pawn had finished and he was supposed to die when he was little anyway. I also like that the idea of reincarnation had already been established in the form of Mu Yeon and Mu Yeong so you don’t get surprised that much. Also, the kid that played Arang in the next life deserved a round of applause for being so, so adorable. The kiss scene at the end kinda weirded me out though because they were supposed to be kids. What would Mummy Shaman say if she caught the both of them?

Overall, I loved Arang and the Magistrate. Sure, it lost some of its steam towards the end (probably due to live-shooting so it could’ve been better). Some of the characters did go from lovable to annoying at some parts but they managed to redeem themselves at the end so that’s okay. The setting of the fantasy drama was established nicely with their own rules and whatnot. The strong point about the drama is actually the mystery angle, how the writer left it for the viewers to play guessing games, instead of just feeding us with information. It allows the viewers to engage with the show. However, the mystery was also the problem with the finale; the loose-ends were not properly tied that you’re still left guessing.

(This post came later than what I have planned. It had been a busy week and with winter creeping in closer, I’ve been doing a lot of my work in bed, thanks to the cold. It isn’t really efficient because I keep dozing off instead. I can’t be bothered to turn on the heater because electricity bills are really expensive. Sigh. I hate winter. I want to go back to the land of one season. Also, I didn’t manage to get any views from my Mum. She became less invested in the story at the end because she was foreshadowing a sad ending. She has this habit of watching the 1st and last episode first and then if she’s satisfied with the ending, she’ll watch the middle parts. There was a time when she managed to catch the final episode of this drama called ‘Over The Rainbow’ on cable and because the main dude and girl ended up together, my Mum bought the DVD. However, she ended up shipping the second lead (Hwanhee) so she was unhappy with the ending.)

The Confusion that is the Finale of Arang

Arang and the Magistrate has finally wrapped up its finale week nearly 2 weeks ago, with the drama maintaining their place ratings in the range of 10+% (There were 4 different figures stated in dramawiki, so I don’t know which one to use.) While the drama did start off at such a high note for me, it’s not so much at the end. I felt that there were too much happening at the finale that the conclusion of the major plot/arc of the story was too anti-climatic. I dunno, I wasn’t satisfied. Anyways, let’s start breaking down my comments/rants below:

The Revelation *cue dramatic music*

Arang’s Murderer: It’s safe to say that anyone that is reading this post has seen the final episode, if not, you’re not supposed to be here. But if you don’t mind being spoiled, then be my guest. From Arang’s Book of (Life and) Death, our Magistrate had found out that Arang’s murderer is *some drum sounds to create suspense* none other than Arang herself. From the flashbacks, we know that Arang, or should we say Lee Seo Rim, took the knife in Joo Wal’s stead. But… how would that infer SHE killed herself? Sure, she probably more or less knew that she was putting a huge danger on her life. But come on, it was the spur of the moment, I don’t think she was 100% sure that she was going or want to die. It’s not as if it was done ala Jung Il woo’s Yang Myung from The Moon Embraces The Sun (I’m sorry for spoiling this). As anti-climatic as it sounds, I would rather that her murderer is actually no one. It’s more logical that way. Or the cliff was the ‘murderer’ if she died from the fall (but that would make Joo Wal the killer). What they also didn’t explain was that how come her body didn’t rot although it had been three years since she died.

The Task: I honestly do not understand why the task was supposed to be unsolvable. I replayed the scenes (Ep 4 and Ep 20) over and over again, reading the subtitles word by word, but I still don’t understand it. I’m just going to quote from Viki’s subtitles, this is what Eun Oh said,”Since Arang can’t die, she’s unable to ring the Bell of Truth.” But I thought the Jade Emperor said that Arang would hear the bell, once she learned about who killed her. What’s that got to do with Arang’s inability to die? It doesn’t make sense. The only theory I can come up with is that every time Arang dies, her Book of Death gets re-written but the last time, she died, in a similar to Lee Seo Rim’s death, in this case trying to save Eun Oh. But then again, she was just stab a hair pin, I don’t think you can die from that. Okay, fine, it was hair pin with some magical properties. Still, my theory doesn’t sound plausible because Eun Oh’s book said he died when he was little. Or… it could be that Arang/Lee Seo Rim was an immortal being in the first place? *plays dramatic music* Now I’m just spouting nonsense. I haven’t discussed this with my Mum (we didn’t get our weekly skyping session last time) but I’ll share it with you if she can come up with a sound explanation. Anyways, you’re also free to share your theories down below the comment sections (one can hope) because I really, really want to wrap my head around this one.

Arang as bait: You know, when the drama first introduced the idea that Arang was merely a bait to lure Mu Yeon. I at first thought it was a brilliant idea coming from the old fogeys. Because as tempting as Arang’s immortality sounds, what Mu Yeon didn’t know about Arang was that her body had an expiry date. So even if Mu Yeon did successfully taken over Arang’s body but once the three full moons were up, so was the body. However, we all know that was not the direction the drama went… Sigh.

I’m going to have nightmares tonight. Yay(!) Props to scary ahjumma at the back.

Trip to the Forest of Afterlife: Anyone thought of Insidious (google it, but be warned this is an American horror film) when they saw this? I automatically thought of that, this was less creepy in terms of the ghosts and background music. I really hated Insidious background music because you would know scary stuff were about to happen. Oh no, I can hear it in my head now. No sleeping for me tonight then. Anyways… yes, I get sidetracked easily… the shaman warned them about being tempted by visions… Which technically didn’t happen (I won’t count the dead servant because she was just showing Arang her old memories, which for me was useless), which is ashamed. I wanted them to pull a scene similar to Anastasia, the scene where she was sleepwalking to her death. That would’ve been awesome and true to the shaman’s warning.

Eun Oh’s death(?): You know how at the end of the drama, after a certain character died, all the other characters began to reminisce about that person. Like “He/She was a very *insert adjective here* person”, but for this drama, there wasn’t any of that. Which is confusing especially considering how much Eun Oh had done for Miryang as the town’s magistrate. How about the Bang Trios? Surely, Eun Oh was not someone they forget easily, not after all the ‘troubles’ he created. Also Dol Swe LOVED his young master so then how could he just prance around life like nothing happened. Are you saying that Eun Oh’s death had no effect whatsoever on his loyal servant? One could argue that Dol Swe did name his child (who happened to be the reincarnation of Eun Oh) after his master, but for me, that doesn’t mean anything. The only explanation that I could conjure up is that everyone who had been in touch with Eun Oh had forgotten him because he is now living a new life as little Eun Oh so any traces of his previous had been wiped off?

(I’ll release a part two, hopefully, next week, after I discuss this drama with my Mum. There’re still a lot that I want to talk about e.g. Joo Wal, Lord Choi. Sigh. How I miss my Summer days when my schedule comprised of only eating, watching dramas and sleeping. Much similar to my cat’s.)

Time to move on to Nice Guy

Press “Play”

It has been 6 weeks since Nice Guy has aired, but I have been avoiding this drama like a plague. Don’t get me wrong. I loved him ever since this cutie pie joined Sungkyunkwan Scandal, and my love for him deepened further thanks to Running Man.  And finally, I’ve gain closure for this drama. So it’s natural that I’m psyched to see his drama. It was his first leading role. Who wouldn’t want to support that?

But then something happened. GAKSITAAAAAAAL ended. I was sad for Kang To who in end, was abandoned all by himself that I felt so empty, like a part of me was died. After what happened to him, all the excitement I have been building for Nice Guy suddenly went to zero. It didn’t feel right to watch the drama that is replacing Gaksital. It’s as if I’m admitting that Gaksital had ended, which I didn’t want to. No, it felt like betrayal. So I went over on a denial phase. I watched Gaksital every day, be it fanvids or the episodes it self. I replayed the scene in ep17 in which Kang To admitted to Mok Dan that he was the young master (my favourite scene!!!) and also Mok Dan’s death on the final episode. Some say, I’m obsessed but hey, it just shows that the drama is amazing, that it left a huge impression on me.

After a long 1.5 months, I can say that I’ve finally found closure. I am going to watch Nice Guy now. And as for Gaksital, well, there’s a perfect song for you. Ayumi Hamasaki’s Hanabi, “There’s never a day that I have to remember you because I never for a moment forgot you.”

I’ll remember you…

Full House 2: Bad hair day

Now, let me say this first, I was never a fan of the original Full House series. I know it was a popular drama back then, it probably was what introduce international fans of my generation to korean dramas (and Rain). I kind of get why it is a classic favourite. But… to me, it was too overrated. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the concept of the contract marriage about two people who hated each other, pretending to love each other, and then they end up falling in love. As quoted by Princess Hye Myung (Lee Shin’s sister) from Goong, ” Two people who are not in love got married, but does it mean that they won’t have love forever?” That’s my favourite troupe!

But… I dunno, I didn’t like the execution. Sure, there were scenes that made the fangirl me squeal but I didn’t like that the main guy spent way too much time with the second girl (I can’t even be bothered to google their names) and how the second guy didn’t even feel like the second guy, y’know. There was barely a love triangle, or a square, to be precise, and that kinda frustrate me.

And so, I WANTED to give Full House Take 2 a chance. I really, really wanted to, especially since Park Ki Woong is there (although he’s in the second guy territory). I wanna see a happy Park Ki Woong!!! (Though I’m gonna need time to adjust. His Shunji left too much of an impact on me.) But, but, the teaser ruin it for me. Don’t believe me, check it out:

Could someone arrest the so-called stylist of this show for committing a huge fashion crime? Why is she trying to destroy the pretty? Argh!!! So frustrating! What is it with Hwang Jung Eum and that mess she call hair? Is her character supposed to be an ajuhma? From the description, she is a Hapkido teacher. Her hair is similar to Lee Shi Yong’s Wild Romance’s character in which she was a Judo athlete. What? So girls who can fight have those kind of hairstyle? I really do not understand the logic behind this? Is it supposed to make her character quirky? Why can’t she have a normal hairstyle? Don’t even get me started with Noh Min Woo’s hair. I thought he’s supposed to be an idol. Blegh. Park Ki Woong looks okay, but he should stick to his natural colour. All this hair talk is making me sad.

I read from dramabeans that Park Ki Woong “joked on a recent appearance of talk program GoShow that when he’s a bad guy his projects are hits, and when he’s the nice guy they flop.” Alas, his words do ring a bit of truth. I’m not saying that this drama is a sure to flop. Heck, it hasn’t started airing yet. He did after all won my heart for his good characters from Tutor Friend 2 (which in my opinion is way better than the first movie) and also Story of A Man. Kyung Tae was super duper cute with headphones and his awkwardness. Still, from what I saw the teaser, I’d have to say ‘No’ to the drama. Sorry, Park Ki Woong!!! Even though, I love you, I can’t bring myself to watch the hideous hairstyles.